Entertainment » Culture

Come Out with Pride Orlando: A Brief History

by Mike Halterman
Friday Sep 27, 2013
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The ninth annual Come Out with Pride week, Orlando’s LGBT pride celebration, will take place this year from October 1-6. Presented this year by Macy’s, this year’s festivities include entertainment and events with filmmaker John Waters, singers Steve Grand, Martha Wash and Taylor Dayne, among others.

Orlando’s LGBT pride spirit was first put on display in 1992 (unrelated to this event) when a small and scared group marched to City Hall to picket for equality. Fast forward to 2005. The Come Out with Pride event was the brainchild of the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA), the LGBT chamber of commerce for central Florida. They felt the need to put together a pride celebration that not only united the community but also brought attention to the many anti-gay laws in the state of Florida and what Floridians are doing to be on the right side of equality.

The first Come Out with Pride festival was held on October 9, 2005. According to organizers, the datepride-3 was selected due to its favorable weather, its proximity to National Coming Out Day, and the fact that Central Florida already had a large-scale LGBT event in the traditional month of June with Gay Days. Attendance grew to over 10,000 in its second year, to over 50,000 attendees estimated in 2009, and now between 100,000 and 125,000 for last year’s event. Depending on who you talk to, it is either Florida’s second-largest LGBT event, after St. Pete Pride, or it has grown so much that it has stolen St. Pete’s crown and is now Florida’s largest LGBT event. In the past grand marshals of the pride parade have included Olympians Greg Louganis and Mary-Ellen Clark, singer Debbie Gibson, TV personality Jonathan D. Lovitz, and human rights activist Stuart Milk.

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About the Pride Entertainers:

John Waters, now 67, became famous for his shock value films in the 1970s that became synonymous with the genre of "the Cinema of Transgression." His films included a regular troupe of actors called the Dreamlanders, which consisted of Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and his muse, the late Divine. His most famous cult films are the "Trash Trilogy," starting with Pink Flamingos (1972), continuing on with Female Trouble (1974) and ending with Desperate Living (1977). The latter film starred Liz Renay, an ex-con best known for being the girlfriend of mobster Mickey Cohen.

Starting with the 1981 film Polyester, mainstream actors found their way into Waters’ films. In the aforementioned film, Divine was paired opposite 1960s teen idol Tab Hunter. Casting more mainstream actors like Jerry Stiller and Ricki Lake, among others, in 1988’s Hairspray, only encouraged Waters as the film grossed over $8 million. Waters favorites Patty Hearst, Ricki Lake and Traci Lords found themselves in two other features, 1990’s Cry-Baby and 1994’s Serial Mom.

Waters lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and has houses in New York City, San Francisco, and Provincetown.

Steve Grand, 23, broke through to the mainstream by becoming the first openly gay male country singer to receive nationwide press coverage. His debut song, "All-American Boy," received over a million hits on YouTube within just seven days of release. The music video cost just $7,000 to produce. His follow-up song, "Stay," has been played over 320,000 times on YouTube since its release on September 6. Over 45,000 fans have subscribed to his YouTube channel.

At the age of 13, after his parents learned of his sexuality, he was enrolled in gay-to-straight conversion therapy, which he was subjected to for five years. This tearful interview with The Backlot also went viral and he gained widespread support from his newfound gay and ally fanbases.

Grand kicks off Come Out with Pride just three months after becoming a sensation in the LGBT community.

Martha Wash, 59, is a house singer whose solo career has given us dance hits over the past two decades. She is perhaps best known in many minds and hearts for being half of the duo The Weather Girls with the late Izora Armstead. Together, the two scored a worldwide hit with "It’s Raining Men" in 1982, rising to #1 on the US dance charts, #1 on the Australian pop charts, #2 on the British pop charts, and is well-regarded as a gay anthem today.

Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, she lent her voice to many different house and dance music singles, often uncredited. She sang lead vocals on the 1991 #1 hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory. Sick of being labeled as "unmarketable" for her plus-sized figure, she sued and won royalties for many of her past uncredited contributions. She then released her own eponymous album in 1993, which yielded three Top 10 dance hits.

Taylor Dayne, 51, first became famous in 1987 with the dance single "Tell It to My Heart," which cracked the top ten in the United States but topped charts in various other countries throughout the world, such as Germany. Her ballads "I’ll Always Love You" (1988) and "Love Will Lead You Back" (1991) sold over a million copies each, and were both certified gold by the RIAA. All in all, Taylor Dayne has had nine Top 20 hits on the Billboard pop charts and 14 Top 10 hits on the Billboard dance charts.

Taylor took many years off to have and raise a family, and in 2008 she released the album Satisfied, which was her first full album of new material in over a decade. The single "Beautiful" became a #1 dance single and she was praised for introducing her fans to her more mature, well-rounded side.
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